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There is a theme of conformity versus non-conformity in this story of A&P by John Updike. The two main representatives in this story are A&P being conformity, and the three girls for non-conformity. A&P is the established ideals of society in present times, and the three girls ignore every ideal by walking into the store wearing nothing but bikinis. As Sammy refers to the shoppers as “ sheep” the girls are walking against the flow of traffic that they sheep are walking. Sammy is rebelling against his manager that had confronted the girls in the store in front of everyone. He told them that they’re not dressed properly and that they needed to get what they wanted or needed and pay for it and leave. He proceeded to tell the girls that there’s a policy about being dressed properly in this store and that they weren’t following that policy. The main girl “ Queenie” proceeded to tell the manager, “ That’s policy for you. Policy is what the kingpins want. What the other want is juvenile delinquency”. (Pike L. & Acosta M., 2011) Sammy ends up quitting after the girls leave. He does this to show his manager that he can’t control people and tell them what to do, or embarrass anyone without punishment.
The rebelling is because of how the manager handled the situation, and Sammy was found of the girls that where in the store, he was trying to show the girls that he cared, and that he would quit for them but they were already gone before he could get their attention. Sammy also understands that the manager is good friends with his parent’s and that his parent’s won’t be too happy with him about quitting his job because of all of this, but his is standing up for what he believes is the right thing to do. He stands up for the girls by saying he is quitting while they are standing there listening to the conversation between Sammy and his manager, but the girls are already gone before they heard him say it. Sammy goes on to tell his boss “ you didn’t have to embarrass them like that”. His boss replies with “ it was they who were embarrassing us”. (Pike L. & Acosta M., 2011) he doesn’t like how his boss talked to the girls, or how he approached the situation. He made the girl blush and feel as if she wasn’t allowed in the store while wearing a bathing suit and it embarrassed her as she was blushing when he confronted her.
When Sammy decided to tell his manager that he quits he was aspiring that he could get the girls to go with him and that they would be noble to him for what he has done, sticking up for them and acting as their hero for what he has done. He was hoping that “ Queenie” would be there watching him and listening to him when he was telling his manager that he didn’t approve of how he handled the situation and embarrassing the girls like he did, but they were gone before he could hold his tongue. This relates to a larger theme of the story because, it goes into tell that they girls walked in and everyone was staring at them and how they were dressed. That they were at the beach and people in this town hasn’t seen the beach in years. Then goes to explain how the boss comes to the store and tells the girls that they are not dressed properly and that they needed to get what they needed and go, and next time they come into the store to be sure to cover their shoulders. In the end of this story Sammy goes outside and says “ I look around for my girls but they’re gone, of course.
There wasn’t anybody but some young married screaming with her children about some candy they didn’t get by the door of a powder blue falcon station wagon. Looking back in the big windows, over the bags of peat moss and aluminum lawn furniture stacked on the pavement, I could see Lengel in my place in the slot checking the sheep through. His face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he’d just had an injection of iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter”. (Pike L. & Acosta M., 2011) He goes looking for the girls but they’re gone, and he sees the world and how hard it will be for him since he quit his job, it’s not going to be easy for him but he will get through it and concur whatever life throws him.
Pike L., D., & Acosta M., A. (2011). Literature a world of writing. (2nd ed., Vol. 1, p. 359). New Jersey: Pearson. Pike L., D., & Acosta M., A. (2011). Literature a world of writing. (2nd ed., Vol. 1, p. 360). New Jersey: Pearson.